Re: Testing an index

Subject: Re: Testing an index
From: Peter Neilson <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
To: Wanda Phillips <wanda -dot- jane -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2008 00:50:22 -0500

Sandy Harris is of course correct - usefulness of an index comes from
being able to find the entry you're looking for and not from
consistency. The terms appearing as entries (and even their spellings)
do not necessarily have to match, in every instance, what is found in
the book.

If you are using software that automatically prepares your index from
the book's pagination, off-by-one errors may appear. The entry pointing
you to page 763 should actually have suggested 762 or 764. Fix these
errors in whatever way you can. Try to avoid post-editing.

Look at a known good index for inspiration. Personally I like to study
indexes in cookbooks. Notice Rombauer and Becker's use of "About" in
entries such as "Beans, About". Notice how nearly all cookbooks use only
two levels of indexing. You may find these entries:

Baked Beans, 162

Baked beans, 162
String beans, 74

Cauliflower, 78

String beans, 74

Baked beans, 162
Cauliflower, 78
String beans, 74

But never this one:

Baked, 162
String, 74

Although entries that tell the reader to "See also" are occasionally
helpful, the entry that says, "See" rarely is. "Baked beans, see Beans,
baked" could have just as easily said, "Baked beans, 162."

--Peter Neilson, happily contemplating the index in his grandmother's
Fannie Farmer cookbook from 1906.


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Testing an index: From: Wanda Phillips

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